Palestinian rioters burn tires and throw stones in the central Gaza Strip (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, February 1, 2019).
A display presented by children with the theme "Our prisoners are not alone" at the "return camp" in the central Gaza Strip. Some of the children wear uniforms, some have their hands bound.
Burning tires in the northern Gaza Strip during the mini-flotilla (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, January 29, 2018).
Distributing aid at IHH headquarters in the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the IHH branch in the Gaza Strip, January 30, 2019).
Constructing the upper barrier along the Gaza Strip border (Israeli ministry of defense Twitter account, February 3, 2019).
Pictures from a PIJ video documenting sniper fire from the Gaza Strip that wounded an IDF officer in the head (Jerusalem Brigades website, February 3, 2019).
- The “return march” of February 1, 2019, was characterized by a relatively low level of violence. In ITIC assessment, the level of violence was relatively low because of the current talks with the Egyptian General Intelligence delegation. A delegation of senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures left for Egypt on February 3, 2019, to continue talks.
- In Judea and Samaria popular terrorism continues. Prominent this past week was an attempted stabbing attack at the Zaim roadblock (between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim). The attacker was a young Palestinian woman who was shot and killed. Another stabbing attack was attempted at the entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron; the stabber was detained. At the Jalame Crossing near Jenin two Palestinians on a motorcycle threw an IED at IDF soldiers. One of the Palestinians was killed and the other was critically wounded. A few days earlier an IED was thrown at the same crossing.
- The Israeli ministry of defense announced the beginning of the construction of an upper barrier in the Gaza Strip on top of the underground barrier. It will be 65 kilometers long (about 40 miles) and six meters high (about 20 feet).
The “return march” of February 1, 2019
- On February 1, 2019, the 45th “return march” was held. Its theme was “Our prisoners are not alone.” About 10,000 Palestinians participated in the events. The level of violence was similar to that of recent weeks. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, reported that 32 Palestinians were wounded by IDF fire (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, February 1, 2019).
Right: A display presented by children with the theme “Our prisoners are not alone” at the “return camp” in the central Gaza Strip. Some of the children wear uniforms, some have their hands bound. Left: A display about prisoners presented at the “return camp” in the eastern part of Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, February 1, 2019).
- As usual, senior Hamas figures were present at the events. They continued to stress that the “return marches” would continue. The Supreme National Authority called on the public to participate in the march of February 8, 2019, whose theme would be “No compromises on lifting the siege” (Dunia al-Watan, February 1, 2019). It also called on the Palestinian public to follow its Facebook page and join its WhatsApp and Telegram groups and follow the activities at the five “return camps” (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, February 3, 2019).
Mini-flotilla and accompanying riot
- After four weeks without a mini-flotilla, on January 29, 2019, the mini-flotilla and riot were renewed. About 1,000 Palestinians rioted on the shore of the northern Gaza Strip, burning tires (Shehab, January 29, 2019). Sources in the Gaza Strip reported that during the activities 78 Palestinians were wounded, 12 by IDF fire (Shehab Twitter account, January 29, 2019). One of the wounded Palestinians died a few days later (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, February 3, 2019). The flotilla and riot provide the Palestinians with an additional occasion to engage in organized violence.
- During the mini-flotilla senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri said the “return marches” were escalating. He claimed that “non-violent” measures such as incendiary balloons would be used to exert pressure on Israel to force it to stop evading the lull understandings (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, January 29, 2019). Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal said in an interview that the Palestinian people were using the mini-flotillas to tell the world that they would not remain silent about the continuation of the [so-called] “siege” of the Palestinian people (al-Aqsa TV, January 29, 2019).
- However, this past week there was no mini-flotilla. Instead, the Supreme National Authority called for a protest demonstration in the port of Gaza to demand the lifting of the “siege” and the construction of a port (Bawabat al-Hadaf, February 4, 2019). The decision not to hold the mini-flotilla might be linked to a desire to preserve relative quiet after the visit of the Egyptian General Intelligence delegation to the Gaza Strip (See below).
Launching IED balloons
- The Hamas-affiliated social media published pictures of balloons with suspicious objects attached (possibly IEDs), launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel. However, so far there has not been an extensive renewal of incendiary kites and balloons.
Right: Cluster of balloons with a suspicious object attached launched from the Gaza Strip on February 4, 2018. It landed in an open area in the western Negev (Palinfo Twitter account, February 4, 2019). Left: Booby-trapped balloon launched from the Gaza Strip on February 3, 2019. It landed in an open area (Palinfo Twitter account, February 3, 2019).
Payments to Palestinians wounded in the “return marches”
- Ahmed al-Kurd, a member of the Hamas leadership and chairman of the committee that monitors Palestinians wounded in the “return marches,” said that 4,000 wounded Palestinians would receive payment: the seriously wounded would receive 300 [Israeli] shekels (about $83) and the critically wounded would receive 600 [Israeli] shekels (about $166) (al-Ra’i, February 2, 2019).
- The Turkish organization IHH provided aid worth €30,000 to the families of 271 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the “return marches” (al-Andalou News, January 30, 2019).
Distributing aid at IHH headquarters in the Gaza Strip
(Facebook page of the IHH branch in the Gaza Strip, January 30, 2019).
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
- Two Palestinians rode a motorcycle to the Jalame Crossing (near Jenin) and threw an IED at IDF soldiers. The soldiers responded with gunfire, killing one Palestinian and critically wounding the other. No Israeli casualties were reported (IDF spokesman, February 4, 2019). On January 31, 2019, an IED was thrown at the same crossing. No casualties or damage were reported (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2019).
Attempted stabbing attack
- On January 30, 2019, a young Palestinian woman armed with a knife arrived at the al-Zaim roadblock (between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim. She ran towards the IDF holding a knife, intending to carry out a stabbing attack. She was shot and killed by a civilian security guard (Israel Police Force Twitter account, January 30, 2019).
- The Palestinian fatality was Samah Zuheir Mubarak, a 16-year-old high school student. Her family came from the al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Five years ago they left the Gaza Strip and since then have been living in Ramallah. Samah Mubarak was apparently a devout Muslim, returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca ten days before the attempted stabbing attack (Khabar, January 30, 2019; Filastin Online, January 31, 2019).
Right: The knife used in the attempted stabbing attack at the al-Zaim roadblock (Israel Police Force Twitter account, January 30, 2019). Left: Samah Mubarak on a pilgrimage to Mecca (Paldf Twitter account, January 31, 2019).
Palestinian reactions to the attack
- According to the Facebook page of the Ramallah-al-Bireh department of education, Bassem Erekat, head of the department, and the mayor of Ramallah visited a number of schools, including the one where Samah Mubarak was a student, in order to examine the schools’ needs. (Ramallah-al-Bireh department of education Facebook page, January 30, 2019). On January 31, 2019, the department’s Facebook page posed a formal mourning notice for Samah Mubarak.
- Hamas-affiliated websites reported that Bassem Erekat, head of the Ramallah-al-Bireh department of education had visited the school where Samah Mubarak was a student. According to the websites, during the visit Bassem Erekat called on the students not to follow her path, because what she had done was an act of stupidity (Shehab, February 2, 2019). In response, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum issued a statement strongly critical of the ministry of education. He demanded an apology from the government, and insisted that anyone who had been party to the “disgraceful event” should be brought to trial (Hamas website, February 1, 2019).
- However, the Palestinian organizations praised the attempted attack and accused Israel of having “executed” the Samah Mubarak. PIJ spokesman Musab al-Brim praised the attempted attack and said the Palestinians would continue to confront the “Zionist enemy” (Filastin al-Yawm, February 1, 2019).
Stabbing attack prevented
- A Palestinian from Hebron tried to enter the compound of the Cave of the Patriarchs by mingling with a group of tourists at one of the examination posts. He was behaving strangely and the security guards searched him. During the search he took out a knife he had hidden in his clothing and threw it on the ground. According to the initial investigation, the Palestinian, who was about 20 years old, planned to carry out a stabbing attack (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, February 3, 2019).
Other events on the ground
- Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities detaining dozens of Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity, confiscating funds used to finance terrorist activities. Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and communities throughout Judea and Samaria. A number of vehicles were damaged. The more prominent events were the following:
- February 4, 2019: Four Molotov cocktails were thrown at the security fence of the community of Psagot, north of Jerusalem near al-Bireh. Earlier, Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at one of the gates of the community of Beit El (north of Ramallah). No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders, February 4, 2019).
- January 30, 2019: Stones were thrown at a vehicle at the Tapuah Junction on the road linking Jerusalem and Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 30, 2019).
- January 31, 2019: An IDF force shot at a Palestinian throwing Molotov cocktails south of al-Khader, on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road. The Palestinian was shot and taken to a hospital for medical care (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 31, 2019).
- January 31, 2019: IEDs were thrown near the village of Ya’bed, west of Jerusalem. No casualties or damage were reported (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2019).
- January 31, 2019: Molotov cocktails were thrown on the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem road. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 31, 2019).
- January 31, 2019: During an Israeli security force activity to locate weapons in the village of Qublan, in the Nablus region, a Carlo improvised submachine gun was found (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2019).
- January 31, 2019: During an Israeli security force activity in the village of Bayt Awla in the Hebron region, more than 100,000 shekels (about $28,000) intended for terrorist purposes were confiscated (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria during the past year and a half 
Construction of a security fence along the Gaza Strip border
The Israeli ministry of defense announced the beginning of works to erect an upper barrier that will follow the route of the underground barrier. It will be 65 kilometers long (about 40 miles) and six meters high (about 20 feet). The end of the barrier will join the underwater barrier near the Zikim shore in the north (Israeli ministry of defense Twitter account, February 3, 2019).
- Al-Jazeera TV aired an investigative program about Israel’s construction of the land and underwater security fence in the Gaza Strip. According to the program, Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip claimed the fence would not prevent them from “continuing their resistance [i.e., terrorism]” or “returning to their homes in Palestine” (al-Jazeera TV, February 2, 2019).
The construction of the land and underwater barrier around the Gaza Strip
(al-Jazeera YouTube channel, February 3, 2019).
The Rafah Crossing
- On January 29, 2019, the Rafah Crossing opened to allow trucks carrying cooking gas and merchandise into the Gaza Strip. It had been closed for two days due to a technical problem on the Egyptian side (Shehab, January 29, 2019). Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, called on the Egyptian authorities to leave the Rafah Crossing permanently open until the ministry of the interior could deal with the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip (al-Mayadeen, January 29, 2019).
- Egyptian sources reported that the Rafah Crossing would remain open for the time being (Safa, January 31, 2019). During a meeting in the Gaza Strip of Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau; Nikolay Mladenov, the UN special envoy to the Middle East; and Ahmed Abd al-Khaliq, responsible for Palestinian matters in Egyptian General Intelligence, the issue of Egypt’s opening the Rafah Crossing was raised (al-Andalou News, February 1, 2019).
- Usama Nofal, a senior member of the ministry of national economy in the Gaza Strip, said that within a few days his ministry would complete the erection of a customs plaza` near the Rafah Crossing for receiving merchandise from the Kerem Shalom Crossing and the Salah al-Din Gate [a control post on the Philadephi Route between Egypt and Rafah]. He claimed the customs plaza would be used to examine products and merchandise to determine whether they met Palestinian standards. He added that inspections carried out after the PA received control of the Kerem Shalom Crossing were insufficient. That, he said, made it necessary for the government in the Gaza Strip to take steps to inspect merchandise (Palestine Online, February 3, 2019).
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip
- Minister of Labor Mamoun Abu Shahla announced that a project would soon begin for temporary employment in the Gaza Strip. The $17 million project is being funded by the World Bank. The project will provide work for 5,000 unemployed Palestinians through projects promoted by civilian social organizations in the Gaza Strip (Filastin al-Yawm, January 28, 2019). UNRWA spokesman Sami Meshasha said the agency needed at least $1.2 billion to continue providing the services it provided in 2018 (Wafa, January 29, 2019).
- The Rowad Association of Society Development gave the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip 112,000 liters of diesel fuel (about 29,600 gallons) for hospital generators. The fuel was donated by ACT, an organization in Indonesia (Rowad Association website, February 3, 2018).
Delivery of diesel fuel for the Gaza Strip power plant
(Rowad Association Facebook page, February 4, 2019).
- A delegation from the Miles of Smiles Convoy, headed by Issam Yusuf, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing on February 4, 2019. Issam Yusuf, who currently lives in Istanbul, is chairman of the International Foundation to Aid Gaza and general coordinator of the Miles of Smiles campaign (Twitter account of Assam Yusuf, February 4, 2019). According to Issam Yusuf, the delegation came to the Gaza Strip to examine health conditions and find ways to provide the hospitals with fuel. The delegation will also examine ways to support the private sector, in coordination with the Egyptian authorities (Assam Yusuf’s Twitter account, February 2, 2018).
Members of the Miles of Smiles Convoy wait in the VIP lounge at the Rafah Crossing
(Assam Yusuf’s Twitter account, February 4, 2019).
Another Egyptian General Intelligence delegation visits the Gaza Strip
- A security delegation headed by Ahmed Abd al-Khaliq, responsible in Egyptian General Intelligence for Palestinian matters, arrived in the Gaza Strip. The delegation will hold more talks with Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations about implementing the lull understandings and about the internal Palestinian reconciliation. In the meantime, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, also arrived in the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, January 31, 2019).
- The members of the Egyptian delegation and Nikolay Mladenov met with Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau. Haniyeh described the meeting as “unprecedented” and claimed it showed they were interested in the situation in the Gaza Strip (al-Aqsa and Safa, February 1, 2019). Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, held a meeting with the Egyptian delegation behind closed doors (Palinfo, January 31, 2019).
- “Knowledgeable sources” reported that the Palestinian desk in Egyptian General Intelligence had recently begin increasing contacts with the Palestinian organizations. The Egyptian goals are to prevent a worsening of the situation and escalation along the Gaza Strip border, and to complete the implementation of the understandings. Senior Egyptian General Intelligence figures met with senior figures in the Palestinian organizations, especially Hamas. The heads of the organizations warned that if Israel did not implement the second stage of the understandings, they would return to exerting “pressure” on Israel. Egypt promised to make Israel implement the understandings, stressing that the organizations had to maintain the lull to make it easier for Egypt to work with Israel (al-Quds al-Araby, February 1, 2019).
- The Egyptian delegation invited senior Hamas and PIJ figures to further talks in Egypt. On February 3, 2019, a Hamas delegation headed by Isma’il Haniyeh left for Egypt (al-Quds, February 2, 2019). A delegation of the PIJ’s political bureau headed by Ziyad al-Nakhalah also left for Cairo (Dunia al-Watan, February 3, 2019). After the meeting with the Egyptian delegation, Hamas and the PIJ issued a joint statement saying that both sides had agreed on a number of issues, including closer relations between the two organizations and a continuation of the “return marches” (Hamas movement website, February 5, 2019).
Hamas delegation visits Palestinians wounded in the “return marches” hospitalized in Egypt (Hamas movement website, February 5, 2019).
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
- The PIJ’s military wing published a video allegedly showing an IDF officer wounded in the head by sniper fire from the Gaza Strip on January 22, 2019. The video shows the bullet hitting the officer’s helmet (Jerusalem Brigades website, February 3, 2019). The reliability of the video is doubtful.
Pictures from a PIJ video documenting sniper fire from the Gaza Strip that wounded an IDF officer in the head (Jerusalem Brigades website, February 3, 2019).
- After the video was made public, PIJ spokesman Musab al-Brim was interviewed by telephone. During the interview he claimed the video was in no way connected to the PIJ, but in any case they supported the continuation of the “resistance” [i.e., shooting at Israeli soldiers]. However, PIJ spokesman Da’ud Shehab confirmed that operatives of the PIJ’s military wing had in fact carried out the sniper fire seen in the video. He claimed it had been carried out in coordination with all the Palestinian organizations in response to the shots [allegedly] fired by the officer at civilians and “small children” in the eastern Gaza Strip (al-Mayadeen, February 2, 2019).
- “Exclusive sources” reported to the al-Hadath website that a week earlier the PIJ’s military wing distributed a announcement to its operatives calling on them to prepare for an expected confrontation, warning the residents of the Israeli communities near the border not to stay at home. In addition, according to reports, a few days ago Hamas’ “restraint force” prevented PIJ military wing operatives from attacking an IDF jeep on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip. Reportedly, there was an argument between the two sides after [Hamas’] “restraint force” operatives made it clear that such an activity could be carried out only after a decision from the joint operations room. The argument was resolved after a meeting of senior figures from both movements (al-Hadath, February 3, 2019).
Popular Resistance Committees delegation visits Lebanon
- A Popular Resistance Committees delegation headed by its secretary general, Ayman al-Shashniya, met in Lebanon with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah. They discussed recent events in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, especially the “return marches.” Nasrallah praised the “flag ambush” operation, claiming Hezbollah steadfastly supported all the “resistance” movements and factions in the ongoing “fateful campaign” (al-Watania News Agency, Lebanon, January 30, 2019; Qawm website, January 30, 2019).
Stopping of American aid to the PA
- A senior American source reported that in response to the PA request of January 1, 2019, all American aid to the PA would stop and the activities of USAID would cease because of the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) (Reuters, February 1, 2019). The PA asked the United States to stop the aid because the American law exposes the PA to lawsuits in American courts. However, the American administration continues to attempt to resolve the issue to that the PA can continue to receive American aid.
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, confirmed that American aid to the Palestinian security forces would end on February 1, 2019. That, he said, was because of the Palestinian demand, which would prevent legal suits from being brought against the PA regarding support for terrorism (al-Quds, February 1, 2019). According to Saeb Erekat, the damage done by the United States to the PA through budget cuts in 2018 was $844 million ($359 million cut from UNRWA’s budget, $231 million from closing USAID and $90 million from cuts to hospitals and institutions in Jerusalem (Palestinian TV, January 31, 2019).
Reactions to ending the activity of the civilian observer mission in Hebron (TIPH)
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had decided not to extend the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), as of January 31, 2019. He said he was ending the mandate because the mission worked against Israel (Israel Today, January 28, 2019).
- Israel’s unilateral cancellation of the mandate was received with strong reactions from the PA and from international organizations. Saeb Erekat met with representatives of the founding members of the TIPH and asked for their legal opinion regarding the measures taken by Israel. He requested that they coordinate their response (Palestinian TV, January 31, 2019). Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, strongly criticized Israel’s decision not to renew the TIPH mandate, claiming it was a call to carry out more [allegedly] unobserved acts of [alleged] carnage against the Palestinian people. He called on the UN to find a way to implement the decision to protect the Palestinian people and end the [Israeli] occupation (Wafa, January 29, 2019).
- The spokesperson for the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said that the Israeli decision not to renew the mandate of the mission, which had an important function in preventing violence, might lead to an escalation on the ground. The spokesperson also stressed Israel’s commitment to protect the Palestinians in Hebron and all the Palestinian territories as dictated by international law (EU website, February 1, 2019). In addition, the foreign ministers of the contributing countries (Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Tukey) said in a joint announcement that they were concerned Israel was undermining one of the few established mechanisms for resolving conflicts between Israel and the Palestinian, which was liable to have a negative influence on the situation between the two sides. They stressed Israel’s duty to protect the Palestinians as dictated by international law (Italian foreign ministry website, February 1, 2019).
Composition of the new Palestinian government
- After the resignation of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s Palestinian national consensus government on January 29, 2019, contacts have been held to form a new government. The Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, quoting “senior Palestinians,” reported that Mahmoud Abbas will choose a new PA prime minister after the organizations meet in Moscow during the second half of February. According to the paper, Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to reverse his statement about setting up a Fatah government and to include Hamas. If Hamas refuses, Mahmoud Abbas will order the establishment of a new government within a specific period of time (al-Hayat, February 2, 2019).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 ACT (Aksi Cepat Tanggap, Indonesian for "Fast Action Response") is an organization established in 2005 and works around the globe. It has apparently been active in the Gaza Strip since 2009, where it funded the digging of wells, provided generators and diesel fuel to various institutions, built chicken coops and fishing boats, and provided medical equipment. Since April 2017 it has operated a program for supporting Palestinian refugees, giving them digital shopping cards. ↑
 Nasrallah was referring to the ambush that took place in the southern Gaza Strip (east of Khan Yunis) on February 17, 2018. An IDF force tried to remove a flag hung by demonstrators on the security fence during the riots. When they approached the fence a powerful IED which had been attached to the flag was detonated. Four soldiers were wounded. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack. For further information, see https://www.terrorism-info.org.il/app/uploads/2018/02/H_055_18.pdf ↑
 The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is a mission of European observers located in Hebron. They come from Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Tukey. Their task is to oversee the implementation of the Hebron Agreement signed between Israel and the PA after the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs on February 24, 1994. The first delegation came on May 8, 1994. The information collected by the observers was sent to the six countries that sent delegates to the mission who are allowed to operate through diplomatic channels with Israel and the PA. ↑